Stories to tell

We noted the commencement addresses President Biden gave over the weekend in “The Biden corrections.” In his remarks at the Naval Academy — White House transcript here — Biden disclosed a previously unknown element of his glorious life. He told the graduating midshipmen that he turned down an appointment to the academy:

Before I begin my speech, a thought crossed my mind as I was told the Class of ‘72 is here. I was appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972. (Laughter.) Never planned it that way. I wasn’t old enough to be sworn in. I was only 29 years old when I was running. He was a fine man, and his name was J. Caleb Boggs.

I didn’t come to the Academy because I wanted to be a football star. And you had a guy named Staubach and Bellino here. So I went to Delaware.

But all kidding aside, the best line of the debate was — after it was all over, the announcer — the questioner who was a good guy but supported my opponent — who was a good man as well, I might add — and he said, “Senator Boggs, you have anything else you want to say?” And he said, “Yes, just one thing.” And he took the microphone. He said, “You know, Joe, if you had accepted my commission to the Aca- — my appointment to the Academy,” he said, “you’d still have one year and three months active duty, and I’d have no problems right now.” (Laughter.)

On its face the story is implausible. The New York Post’s Steven Nelson subjected it to a fact-check treatment. He found that it didn’t add up.

Drawing on Nelson’s work, Nick Arama followed up in RedState posts here (May 27) and here (May 28). Arama concisely judges the story “nonsense” and explained in his May 28 recap:

[Biden] graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965. No, he wouldn’t have been getting an appointment to the Academy at that point. So, he didn’t decide against the Academy because he wanted to go to Delaware — he was already going to Delaware.

“I didn’t come to the Academy because I wanted to be a football star. And you had a guy named Staubach and Bellino here. So I went to Delaware.” Except Roger Staubach graduated in 1965 and Joe Bellino in 1961. So even that part didn’t add up.

Arama comments with two rhetorical questions: “How do you lie about receiving a Naval appointment to Navy graduates? What kind of a person does that?”

In his May 27 post Arama again drew on Nelson’s story: “In fact, Joe Biden got five student deferments in the ’60s, while he was in college and in law school. He reportedly was deemed ‘unfit’ for service in 1968 because of asthma, despite playing football and being a lifeguard.”

Richard Ben Cramer’s What It Takes chronicled the lives of Biden and other 1988 presidential candidates in depth. Unfortunately, the book lacks an index. Leafing through it this morning, however, I am reminded of Biden’s misappropriation of the life of Neil Kinnock in that campaign. It brought his campaign to a premature conclusion. Biden’s fabulations are not an age-related development.

Not foreseeing a possible need for it, I threw out my copy of Biden’s Promises To Keep when the publisher sent me a copy in 2008. I am therefore grateful to have Nelson’s note on the book:

It’s unclear if Biden has told the story before, but it surprised political journalists who have covered his many campaigns and his presidency. Biden’s 2008 autobiography “Promises to Keep” does not mention the Naval Academy.

The obvious counterpart to the title of Promises To Keep for Biden’s presidential memoirs, if he makes it that far, is Stories To Tell. But the idea that Biden might be in any shape to write memoirs after his time in office is almost funny.

Also almost funny — the professional fact-checkers at the Washington Post and elsewhere have yet to take up this particular question of fact. They haven’t gotten around to it yet. As far as I can tell, only the New York Post, RedState, and American Military News have taken up the question.

So it was good to have a reporter pose a question that touched on it directly to the White House press secretary yesterday (White House transcript here, video below). Unfortunately, she couldn’t answer. She “didn’t hear that part of the speech.” Will she circle back to us on this one?

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